Another city council resolution?

by Pete Talbot

What a strange dichotomy: say the Pledge and get out of Iraq.

The Iraq War resolution, for sure, will appear on the ballot this fall. Now it looks like a resolution for mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at city council meetings could be on the ballot, too.

How interesting that Aldermen Nicholson, Hendrickson, Ballas and Wilkins, the same guys who said the resolution to bring our troops home from Iraq is a waste of council time and money, are pushing to get a mandatory Pledge resolution on the ballot.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that city business should be filling potholes, funding police and firefighters, and plowing the streets – that the city shouldn’t be involved in other ethereal affairs – and then claim that the Pledge of Allegiance needs to be on the ballot.

I’ve got no problem with saying the Pledge at council meetings, if that’s what the person running the meeting wants to do. If that same person prefers starting the meeting with a reading or a poem or a song, that’s fine, too.

But the claim that it’s a waste of time and money to vote on a resolution to get the troops out of Iraq, then to try and put a mandatory Pledge of Allegiance resolution on the ballot, rings false. There has been a lot more time spent debating the Pledge at council meetings. It seems the issue gets raised every couple of years or so, usually around election time.

One word comes to mind: hypocrisy.

  1. Ayn Rand

    lets start the meeting with a reading from the Koran(sp) or the communist manifesto? I’ll bet i could name the names standing at attention. Alls well here in Missoulastan.

  2. As someone who follows local City Government, I am curious why this requires a vote of the citizens. When the Dillon City Government decided to say the pledge at the beginning of City Council meetings, it is my understanding that there was a simple vote of the City Council to institute it as a policy.


  3. You hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head, Pete. (Or is it burned the proverbial American flag?) Either both are important uses of City Council time, or neither.

    Personally? Let Missoulians vote on both. Then perhaps once the results are in it will shut up those who love to trot out the (complete non-issue) Pledge of Allegiance every election year. What the supporters of this ballot measure will never learn is that spontaneous displays of patriotism are so much more meaningful and from the heart than all the enforced government fiats can ever hope to be.

  4. spontaneous displays of patriotism are so much more meaningful and from the heart than all the enforced government fiats can ever hope to be.

    Ooo, very well put, Rebecca!

  5. Moorecat – this discussion has been ongoing. I don’t know that it has gone to vote…my guess is that a vote would be tied. The sponsors could probably get enough votes, though, to support a resolution that would authorize a referendum vote, though. Or at least they think they could.

    Pete is right about the hypocrisy in this latest move by the Ballas/Wilkins/Hendrickson malcontents. They can preach all they want when they’re on the losing end – but then they are more than willing to do a flip-flop when it comes to their own political motivations.

    Me? My vote will be “No” simply because whomever wants to run the meeting gets to run the meeting the way they want to do it. If the public really wanted something like this, they’d of moved into council chambers ‘en masse’ sometime over the last 2 years that this topic has been debated and demanded that the pledge be said.

    Christ. We got no sidewalks on Russell Street and Third Street and entire neighborhoods, and these guys are taking time to debate this out. How many pedestrians and bikers have to be killed before they realize they have a job to do?

  6. noodly appendage

    Only on the liberal blogs would saying the pledge of allegiance be viewed as “hypocrisy”.

    For Americans, it’s “patriotic”.

    PS, what cities in america DON”T start with a recitation of the pledge, or, for that matter, what cities in MONTANA don’t start with a recitation of the pledge?

  7. noodly appendage

    From Butte:
    ROLL CALL________________________________________________________

    From Bozeman:
    A. Call to Order – 4:00 PM – City Commission Meeting Room, City Hall, 411
    East Main Street
    B. Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence

    CALL TO ORDER – Mayor Tussing
    PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – Mayor Tussing
    INVOCATION – Councilmember Boyer

    1. Call to Order and Roll Call

    2. Pledge of Allegiance

    Great Falls:
    CALL TO ORDER: 7:00 P.M.

  8. petetalbot

    I thought I made it clear in my post. I’m not opposed to saying the Pledge at council meetings. What disturbs me is the group that is advancing the Pledge resolution is the same group that said the Iraq War resolution is a waste of time and money. Either you stick with city business or you don’t. That’s the hypocrisy here.

    And, Ayn, I think you actually bolster my point. In a democracy, you don’t have to start a meeting with readings from the Koran or the Communist Manifesto or the Bible or even reciting the Pledge. That’s one of the things that freedom is about.

    So here we are, at war in Iraq, supposedly to spread democracy and freedom in the Middle East (now that the WMD and 9/11 link have proven bogus). We’re there to clear the region of despots and fanatical fundamentalists so folks are free to vote, and tolerate different points of view and religious perspectives. Meanwhile, at home, we’re codifying the Pledge of Allegiance at city council meetings.

    Again, hypocrisy.

  9. Last time I checked, I’ve got a Social Security card and a birth certificate proving I’m an American, Noodly. Just a suggestion–political discussions are so much more interesting and intelligent when all the participants can dispense with the notion that certain groups of citizens are “more American” than others based on public displays of behavior.

  10. noodly appendage

    Just a suggestion, Rebecca. You police your posts, I’ll police mine. You could find lots of illegal aliens with the same paperwork, I’m certain. What does paperwork prove? Next to nothing.

    Like I said, in the rest of the country, in the rest of Montana, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to open the meeting is a reminder of our duty to our country and to the idea of “one nation indivisible”.

    In Missoula, at least according to some here, It’s “one word”, “hypocrisy”.

  11. Noodly, way to twist the argument. It’s the government mandating loyalty oaths that bugs us. Heck, if you’re so “American” as you claim, you’d recognize it’s bad news.

    You don’t, so obviously you’re not a real American. You must be one of them immigrints.

  12. By the way, if only liberals recognize the hypocrisy of government forcing its citizens to make gestures of “patriotism,” that’s just another reason to be proud to be liberal. I’d rather fight for American values than subsume them to be part of a big, happy group.

  13. Again, it’s not the Pledge itself, saying it, thinking it, singing it, hell, even farting it, that’s hypocritical. It’s certain City Council members deciding that this subject is worth one, two, three meetings worth of discussion all the while claiming that City Council time shouldn’t be taken up with discussion of a resolution on the War in Iraq.

    There’s no point in reminding ourselves of our “duty to our country”, Noodly, when the very ideals that the Pledge represents are not welcome in City Council chambers.

    To paraphrase your question about my “paperwork”, without free speech what does the Pledge of Allegiance prove? Next to nothing.

  14. Mandating loyalty oaths and wearing my patriotism on my sleeve seems so 1934 to me.

    Who was it that required that? What effect did that have? What price was paid because someone decided that was necessary?

    Wait – I’ll go ask my dad and uncles and aunts – they could tell me.

  15. What I am having an issue with is the idea that it takes three or four council meetings to debate this. Take a simple vote and be done with it. Move on to more important things. Certainly this can’t be seen as something of such importance that it must dominate the time of the Missoula City Council.

    While I have my issues with saying the pledge before a meeting, I don’t think those issues are important enough to argue for weeks about it. Shouldn’t that time be spent arguing about things like… development, zoning, figuring out how Missoula is going to meet it’s water needs over the next decade – you know, important things like that?

  16. noodly appendage

    It’s not even an issue in the rest of Montana. We just say it, and proudly, and gladly.

    It’s only here that the Pledge of Allegiance is an imposition and infringement on free speech.

    I have no doubt that some of you see the pledge as a meaningless gesture as you’ve indicated.

  17. petetalbot

    It is my understanding, Moorcat, that council would need a 2/3rds majority (8 out of the 12 council members) to change the rules to mandate the Pledge be said before meetings. You only need a simple majority (7 votes) to place a resolution on the ballot. Me thinks that the proponents of the Pledge resolution have the seven votes, but not the eight needed for the rule change. Ergo, they’re pushing a resolution.

    But I agree with you, council’s time would be much better spent on development issues, zoning, water needs…

  18. It’s only here that the Pledge of Allegiance is an imposition and infringement on free speech.

    Ain’t no obtuse like conservative obtuse.

  19. You know, I don’t really care about the Pledge one way or the other. That folks do care about it so much…well…it’s a little weird, IMHO. I was zinging noodly for implying that saying the Pledge is synonymous with being an American. It’s not. Period.

    The only thing that makes America isn’t the flag, the military, red white and blue, apple pie, Jesus, or road trips, it’s the idea behind the country. That’s why we see e Pluribus Unum on our pennies, because the country is about taking folks from disparate walks of life and uniting them on the common bonds to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to the US Constitution, the rule of law, and that We, the People of the United States of America are the fount of power.

    Saying the Pledge over and over and over won’t change that fact and won’t make you any more American, especially if you disparage others who excercise their God-given rights to their freedom of expression or opinion while doing so…

  20. I guess our rules in Dillon are much simpler. There are very few times you need a super majority (things like overturning a veto for example). To institute the policy to say the pledge at the Council meetings took a simple majority.

    My issues with the Pledge of Allegence are my own. Please don’t assume that you know them or that I am a liberal because I have them. I served in the military, I have served my country in other ways and I am every bit as patriotic as the next guy. Nor do I buy that being liberal means that you are unpatriotic. I simply have issues with it that I would prefer not to discuss here.

  21. petetalbot

    Moorcat, I respect that you have personal issues with the Pledge that you’d rather not air on the blogs. Thanks for chiming in, though, and I find your posts on the Dillon City Council fascinating.

  22. My question is, why the h*ll do adults take this thing so seriously anyway? (Myself included.) I remember as a kid how we’d all slander the thing by making up our own irreverent lines and seeing if the teacher would notice…

    Hm…now there’s a thought…

  23. Ayn Rand

    Jay, I suggest you do that in front of a veteran, now there’s a thought.

  24. What’s with you people? Is that some sort of threat? Do you realize the only veteran who responded to this post said it’s a non-issue and that he, himself, has issues with the Pledge? And where do you get off speaking for veterans? Is that the best you can do in a debate, fantasize some veteran kicking my *ss because you can’t think of anything substantive to add to the issue? Has an online moniker ever been so poorly chosen?

  25. Jay,

    You have to realise that “veterans” have been used in political discussions/debates for centuries. It is the ultimate “straw man” argument because, when the dust settles, veterans are nothing more than men and women just like everyone else, that have the questionable distinction of having served in the Military.

    We (veterans) represent every side of the political, social, religious, and patriotic spectrum and we are used by all those spectrums as some kind of “hero” thing to make thier point. Most veterans I know either find the situation funny or infuriating depending on the individual. Most people who use the veteran “strawman” argument are not worth the time to argue with. Check out Wulfgar’s Lovecraft posts… he does a very good job of explaining it.


  26. noodly appendage

    “What’s with you people?”

    “Whats wrong with “you people” is that in using it, you forget the pledge, one nation, indivisible.

    What’s wrong with “us” is that we lack social graces or the need to use them on the internet.

  27. noodly appendage

    BTW, I never mentioned “veterans”.

    I only mentioned that all the other big Montana cities, and all over america, citiy councils begin their meetings with the pledge. They’re glad to do it because it’s a time when we can unite, before the sometimes rancorous meetings, in our pledge to the American values we hold dear.

    And people who don’t want to say it, at the meeting, don’t say it.

  28. Noodly, the “you people” was for Ayn and others who have used this “just say that to a veteran” rhetoric to me in the past. (Oddly enough, it’s always been a non-vet who says it.)

    As for you, yeah, well, I’m down with the one nation, indivisible part, and think council members should say it if they want, and not say it if they don’t want, or maybe they could macrame a flag or sing “This Land is My Land,” or tap dance to the Star Spangled Banner, I just get p*ssed off at people who tell me anyone who doesn’t want to say it isn’t American.

  29. noodly appendage

    “I just get p*ssed off at people who tell me anyone who doesn’t want to say it isn’t American.”

    Nobody said that either. And my point is why get pissed, aren’t we having a conversation?

  30. Noodly:

    Only on the liberal blogs would saying the pledge of allegiance be viewed as “hypocrisy”.

    For Americans, it’s “patriotic”.

    You said it, Noodly.

  31. The Liberal Nemesis

    Hey, Pete, why do the simplest things always have to be explained to you?

    This is Part A: It is a waste of time and money to vote on a resolution to get the troops out of Iraq.

    This is Part B: It is a waste of time and money to vote on a resolution to say the Pledge of Allegiance at city council meetings.

    Part A is true because it is not within the power of a city council to get the troops out of Iraq.

    Part B is false because it is within the power of a city council to have Pledge of Allegiance recited at city council meetings.

    If you were pragmatic, rather than dogmatic, you would have quickly noticed that one resolution could not possibly have any real-world effect while the other resolution could.

    The Liberal Nemesis

  32. The Liberal Nemesis

    And Jay Stevens– America is not an “idea,” unless you’re a mental case.

  33. A: The referendum may, indeed, have an effect on the Iraq War. If enough cities call for withdrawal at high enough rates, you bet our reps will jump to. Like Rehberg, who blows wherever the wind takes him.

    The referendum in the end may only have a small say in the war, but it is a crucial issue to the country and world and Missoula.

    B: Yes, the council actually has power over the mandatory Pledge. But it is completely meaningless issue.

    So, is it better to have a small say in a big issue, or complete control over a non-issue?

    If you were pragmatic, you’d choose the former over the latter. Better to make small splashes in a big pond than have no pond at all to throw rocks in. Or something.

    By the way, grammatically speaking, that should be “The Liberals’ Nemesis,” but then again I’m not sure “nemesis” means what you think it does.

  34. And Jay Stevens– America is not an “idea,” unless you’re a mental case.

    Or a student of history.

    But based on current events, it’s apparent that conservatives view the two as synonymous.

  35. petetalbot

    And the real-world effect of a mandatory recitation of the Pledge at city council meetings would be….?

  36. The Liberal Nemesis

    As the liberals say, you guys made my point for me.

  1. 1 Pragmatic Revolt » Veterans and Politics

    […] This brings me, finally, to the point of this little tirade. I got involved in a small discussion over on 4 & 20 Blackbirds having to do with the argument in the Missoula City council about the Pledge of Allegence […]

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